Obesity mortality rates higher than expected
How deadly is obesity? Apparently much more deadly than previously thought. New research from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation concluded that almost one in five Americans between 40 and 85 dies an obesity-related death. That’s significantly higher than the five percent that scientists had previously estimated.
In this study, the researchers documented the increasing effects of obesity on mortality in white men who died between age 65 and 70 between 1986 and 2006. Grade one obesity (BMI of 30 to 34.9) accounted for 3.5 percent of deaths for men born between 1915 and 1919; 10 years later, it was 5 percent of death, and 10 years after that, the figure was higher than 7 seven percent. The study was expanded to include 19 groups of mortality records over a 20-year period, and the researchers focused on people aged 40 to 85 in order to exclude accidental death, homicide and congenital conditions that could kill young people.
Ultimately, the results indicated that black women had the highest risk of dying from obesity, as 27 percent of deaths were found to be related to the condition. White women followed at 21 percent, then white men at 15 percent, and black men had the lowest death rates at five percent. The study pointed out that mortality in black men was skewed, though, as many deaths were "crowded out" when other risk factors – such as high rates of smoking and challenging socioeconomic factors – were accounted for.
The researchers pointed out that when the obesity epidemic hit in the 1980s, it hit across all age groups, so older Americans have lived through it for a relatively short period of time. But younger age groups will be exposed to the full brunt for much longer periods.